“Thanks for ruining my life”
Note: Published op-ed.
I’ve just read a news item about a 16-year-old girl who violated a court order by Tweeting the names of two boys who sexually assaulted her at a party last summer. The boys’ lawyers filed motions that she be held in contempt of court and she could theoretically have faced jail time.
Theoretically, let’s get real. The judge’s gag order would almost certainly have been overturned, if it ever got that far. But she faced them down and the boys’ lawyers blinked.
The young lady has identified herself, but I won’t use her name here. If you wish to find out about the case, google the title of this column. The case is in Kentucky.
Firstly I have to say I admire the young lady’s courage and outspoken defiance, and I totally agree the two boys got off easy with a plea bargain. I personally favor a public flogging – and I do not mean that figuratively.
I have to say that firstly, because a lot of people are going to be very angry with what I have to say secondly.
According to the article, what happened was the girl passed out drunk at a party. Two boys, both students at a prestigious private school, neither with a criminal record, partially undressed her, took unforgivable liberties with her body while stopping short of the strict definition of rape, and took pictures with their cell phone cameras. The victim knew the boys but only slightly, according to the news accounts.
The girl woke up the next morning not knowing quite what had happened, and only found out about it months later when she heard rumors of the existence of the photos.
I always read of such cases with a sense of despair.
Despair, because this kind of trauma is so easy to avoid, because so much pernicious nonsense is written about it, and because talking sense about it will get you accused of “blaming the victim.”
So who am I to talk about it?
I am, like the mother of the victim, a single parent of a little girl who will all-too-soon be a beautiful young woman. I have close friends who are rape victims. I am a ranked instructor in two martial arts, with intermediate to advanced training in about a half-dozen others, and a certified instructor of military combatives. And I just avoided a rape attempt when I was about 11 years old.
When cases such as this get media attention notes go up all over Facebook about how we live in a “rape culture,” and
“Rather than teach girls how not to get raped, we need to teach boys not to rape.”
Nonsense on stilts. Who the heck teaches their sons to rape women in this country?
Rape in our country is, thank God, relatively rare compared to theft and simple assault, and stranger rape is the least common.
Precautions against stranger rape are cheap and simple, essentially identical to the precautions one would take against robbery. They involve good locks, security systems, situational awareness, and avoidance strategies far more than carrying a gun or spending years in martial arts training to become a “human weapon.”
That’s the good news.
The bad news is, sexual assault, like simple assault and murder, is mostly committed by a perpetrator the victim knew, at least slightly, while engaging in high-risk behaviors, such as passing out at parties surrounded by strangers.
Again, IT IS NOT BLAMING THE VICTIM to say certain behaviors put one at risk. A very old friend of mine was raped by a hitch hiker she picked up while she was driving alone. When she told me the story, the tears I saw in her eyes tore my heart out – which does not change the fact that picking up a hitch hiker was a serious error in judgment for a woman alone.
More of us than ever before are raising children alone, which no matter how devoted we are limits the time we can supervise them. Alcohol is, face it, easy enough for teens to come by. And cell phone cameras are in the wrong hands a terrible weapon for casual humiliation.
The greatest weapon we have to protect our children is neither guns, nor martial arts, but information. Fortunately,
it is available for free here:
Some of it is disturbing, and the advice therein excites a fair number of critics. Just go there. As it says, “We’re about prevention, not damage control.”